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MODERNISM: 1900-1950 “Things fall apart, The center cannot hold.”

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MODERNISM: 1900-1950 “Things fall apart, The center cannot hold.”. The Excited Early Modernists.

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slide1

MODERNISM:

1900-1950

“Things fall apart,

The center cannot hold.”

the excited early modernists
The Excited Early Modernists
  • continue to react to dehumanizing trends evident in the modern world: world that seems to be meaningless, isolation and alienation in the midst of urban crowds, the standardization of work, and conformity
  • Stressed INNOVATION: if the world was going to be in upheaval, they would recreate that in their work
  • the rise of “-isms”: Imagism, Surrealism, Futurism, Cubism, Dadaism, etc.
  • absurdity in art: strong images, unusual symbols, shock tactics => emotional response!
  • free verse: poets abandon traditional stanza form and meter for more natural poetry
  • new interest in psychological theories (Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung): dreams and subconscious desires; the self/mind is a place of conflict
  • Stream-of-consciousness: narrative technique that attempts to depict the leaps and associations of the human mind
  • shift from third person narrators of the Victorian era to first person narrators (no longer confident, no longer can be certain of the truth, all knowledge is filtered through humans)
imagism
Imagism
  • Poetry that focused on precise imagery and clear, sharp language
  • Example:

A Lover by Amy Lowell

If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly I could see to write you a letter.

surrealism
Surrealism
  • Attempts to express the workings of the subconscious and is characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.
  • Salvador Dali
cubism
Cubism
  • objects are analyzed, broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form—instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context
  • Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne
dadaism
Dadaism
  • Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition.
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Hannah Höch, Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany,

disillusionment and the lost generation
Disillusionment and “The Lost Generation”
    • Devastation of World War I
      • Known as the “Great War:” thought that another war on that scale would never be possible – wrongo!
  • Disillusioned:
    • By use of science and technology creating death (gas/airplanes)
    • Vast sense of meaninglessness (no progress with death!)
    • Sense of anonymity (too many soldiers in too many trenches)
  • Many writers turn bitter and cynical
    • “The Lost Generation”
the later modernists
The Later Modernists
  • 1930’s and 1940’s: the growth of fascism (Mussolini & Hitler) prompted many writers to focus on social and political concerns. (W. H. Auden , Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene, and George Orwell)
  • Aspects of Modernism became increasingly accepted as they became more familiar, and mere novelty played a less important role in literature than before. Free verse, for example, remained popular, but some poets were equally at home with more traditional forms. In fiction, the use of stream-of-consciousness techniques became more widespread and less obscure.
overall literary techniques
Overall Literary Techniques
  • Sense of alienation, futility, loss and despair
  • Multiple ways to view the world: no clear “right” or “wrong”
  • But they are searching for meaning and truth: see the world as chaotic but hope to find meaning by seeing the world differently!
  • Rejection of traditional values and assumptions
  • Elevation of the individual
  • First person narration
  • Emphasis on introspection/depth of human mind/psychology
  • Stream of consciousness
  • Irony: not as technique, more as an attitude
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